August 29, 2012
By Tammy Parker
Verizon Wireless’ (NYSE:VZ) certification of Altair Semiconductor’s FourGee-3100/6202 chipset is a major step toward expanding the number of machine-to-machine (M2M) devices and other products available for use on Verizon’s LTE network.
“Certification is crucial for original equipment manufacturers in minimizing the time it takes from investment to revenue in commercializing devices such as tablets, M2M applications and other LTE products,” said Altair.
Device manufacturers using Altair’s FourGee-3100/6202 chipset will be able to skip cumbersome testing on the way to bringing their products to Verizon’s network, said GigaOM, which noted Altair’s certification news marks the first time Verizon has certified a chip vendor as opposed to a device.
M2M equipment could be an immediate beneficiary of Altair’s achievement of Verizon certification. Though machine-to-machine communications have traditionally needed to run on only the most basic digital communications networks, module maker Sierra Wireless and others have begun pushing LTE as a must-have for devices delivering emerging high-speed M2M applications. Further, as operators seek to phase out older 2G networks even older M2M devices will likely need to gain LTE capability.
The global M2M market will soar to 359.3 million total M2M cellular connections in 2016, according to a recent report from Berg Insight. The report also said the world’s 10 largest operators by revenues had 68.2 million M2M subscribers at the end of 2011, an increase of around 38 percent year-over-year. Further, the GSM Association said last October that the connected device market represents an “addressable revenue opportunity” for mobile operators of nearly $1.2 trillion by 2020–more than seven times the revenues generated from connected devices in 2011.
Verizon, like other mobile operators, is building up its M2M business, though it indicated during its first-quarter 2012 earnings conference call that it would no longer disclose total network connections, explaining that M2M is more complicated in terms of how plans and device connections are formulated.
Eran Eshed, Altair’s co-founder and vice president of marketing, said the chip vendor hopes to help develop the next wave of LTE solutions–including M2M, fixed and mobile broadband applications–for Verizon’s LTE network, which now spans 330 U.S. markets.
Altair’s FourGee-3100/6202 chipset supports both FDD and TDD variants using the same software and covers any LTE frequency band in the range between 700-2700MHz. The chipset implements a high performance MIMO receiver and is based on Altair’s proprietary O²P Software Defined Radio (SDR) processor.
Completion of the certification process with Verizon is a strategic milestone for Altair, which is one of many chipset vendors actively pursuing LTE business. Many of those firms, including Altair and rival Sequans Communications, shifted their focus in recent years to LTE and away from WiMAX.